The ways people find jobs have evolved quite a bit in recent years; many aspects of the job hunt now take place online, including job hunters researching employers and submitting applications, recruiters and employers researching candidates, and many different forms of networking. LinkedIn, a social networking site aimed at professionals, has more than 250 million members and can help people find jobs in a variety of ways. According to Time, 93 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent.
A LinkedIn profile and a resume are similar in many ways, but they should be complementary rather than identical. One key difference between them is the fact that, as a site based on making connections, it’s okay—even encouraged—for you to write your LinkedIn profile in the first person. Your summary functions as an introduction, and the best summary is a compelling narrative that showcases both your most impressive accomplishments and your personality. (Keep in mind that tone can be difficult to convey, especially when writing to a broad audience, and that trying to sound quirky or funny may fall flat.) You can also use headers to break your summary into sections, making it easier to read.
Another difference is that your LinkedIn profile should include a photo. Choose a recent headshot with a simple background, and make sure that you are dressed professionally. If you don’t already have a picture that would be suitable, have a friend or family member take one for you. Don’t use a selfie, and whatever you do, please do not use a photo of your cat. (Yes, people have done this.)
In order to put your best foot forward on LinkedIn, make sure your profile is filled out completely. This includes taking the time to add targeted keywords to your profile’s body, summary, and headline. You can also upload samples of your work to your profile. This can include pasting links, or uploading a variety of file types. Filling out the title and description of the sample gives you another opportunity to use keywords. The ability to include work samples is a fantastic tool for those using LinkedIn to find jobs, because it gives people the chance to show potential employers exactly what they can do.
By joining LinkedIn groups, you can create and strengthen connections and boost your profile in your field. According to data from LinkedIn, people who participate in groups get 4 times more profile views than those who don’t. There are more than 1.5 million groups on LinkedIn, and each member can join a maximum of 50 groups. Your group memberships are automatically visible on your profile, but if you wish, you can use your settings to hide certain groups so people who view your profile cannot see them. There are numerous ways to participate in groups, such as posting and responding to discussion questions.
One of the biggest benefits of joining a group is that you can then contact any other group member directly. This makes groups a fantastic networking tool, particularly if you are able to make a connection with someone who works at a company you’re interested in. Alumni groups from schools you attended are also effective for networking. Job seekers should join relevant groups, such as Job Openings, Job Leads and Job Connections. It has nearly 1.8 million members, and includes job listings, job search advice, and space for people to introduce themselves.
While LinkedIn has a job listings feature, groups have their own separate jobs listings. Some employers post jobs only in groups with the hope of drawing a smaller, better pool of applicants. Participating in groups in your industry makes you privy to these great job listings.
Content posted in groups is searchable, which is beneficial for two reasons. One is that recruiters may come across your posts and see your contributions; the other is that you can perform a search for your target companies, or people who work at your target companies. By reading what they have posted, you can learn a lot about the interests they have and the issues they face. This can help you to formulate both great responses and great questions to use during a job interview.
LinkedIn offers those hoping to find jobs a couple different ways to show their knowledge of their fields. As with many other social networking sites, LinkedIn users can post status updates. Job seekers can take advantage of this by posting their thoughts about news and events in their field, including links to relevant articles. One of the things recruiters look for when searching various social networking sites is how engaged a candidate is with their industry. Proving that you stay on top of the latest events in your field can enhance your profile in the eyes of recruiters. Additionally, you can leave relevant comments on the status updates that others post. Remember that your status updates and comments should be professional, not personal.
LinkedIn recently expanded their publishing platform, allowing users to post original content. This feature is rolling out slowly, and will open up to all users over time. LinkedIn Pulse posts are displayed on a user’s profile, with their connections, and are even visible to those outside their network. You can track views, likes, and other metrics to learn about how your posts are performing. This is a useful option for people who don’t want to commit to starting their own blog. (It should be noted, however, that while you do technically own the content you publish on LinkedIn, they may change their rules at any time.) LinkedIn has a detailed list of best practices for those interested in publishing their own content, including keeping each post narrowly focused. The best-performing posts average just three paragraphs in length.
If you’re among the 9.6 million Americans looking to find jobs, using LinkedIn effectively can boost your chances of success.